Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Glimpse into Postpartum Depression

I wrote this on December 14, 2013. Sabrina was just under a month old. And I was near rock bottom with my postpartum depression. I tried writing down my feelings to help to deal with them. I hate reading this. It breaks my heart. Postpartum depression is real, and it is scary.  I hope I never feel like this ever again.


My daughter is 25 days old today. This had been the hardest 25 days I could have ever imagined. If I could sum it all up with one word, it would be failure. From the start I have been a failure as her mother. I went into labor 3 weeks early. Fail. I couldn't even keep her inside me for the right amount of time. I was in labor for 13 hours, pushed for over an hour, and she made no progress at all coming down the birth canal. My epidural fell out and I was in terrible pain in my hips. My doctor gave me a 25% chance of delivering vaginally. So I opted for a c section. Fail. My daughter came into the world in the scary, cold, sterile environment of the OR. Instead of being born the way god intended and being put on her mothers bare chest, she was yanked from me "sunny side up" and shown to me as I laid strapped to a table. As they checked her apgar and everything, I couldn't see her. Instead I was being sewn up. When they went to move me to recovery, I got extremely nauseous and vomited all over myself. Fail. Instead of bonding with my daughter, I laid in a dark room shivering with just a nurse and 2 nursing students. My husband couldn't find me so I just laid there, alone, wondering what my daughter looked like, if she was okay. I didn't get to hold her until almost 2 hours after she was born. Was she wondering where I was?  Did she long for my warmth?  Fail. 

Next came breast feeding. The single worst experience of my life.  So badly I wanted it to happen, to come naturally, but it didn't. I was instructed by nurses whose idea of instruction was to grab my daughters head and force her on my nipple, while I writhed in pain. Over and over I was told I wasn't doing it right, that's why it was hurting. My daughters strong arms fought me every step of the way. I hated every second of it, but kept telling myself it would get better. We came home, and it didn't get better. It got worse. I got worse. My postpartum depression was swallowing me whole. I couldn't get any sleep. This little person kept screaming for food and I as her mother was ill equipped to give it to her. Yet another failure. Finally, I went to seek help. The lactation consultant was much better than those in the hospital. She was aghast at the state of my poor breasts. 2 blood blisters and horribly cracked nipples. I had tears in my eyes from the pain, from the exhaustion, from the bitter disappointment in myself. All the while my daughters skin continued to yellow from jaundice. She wasn't getting what she needed from me and it was getting worse. I fought with myself. Was formula so terrible?  I didn't want to give in. I agreed to pump instead of latching her to give myself time to heal. But at 4 am I wasn't producing the supply I was told she needed. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. So I gave in and gave my daughter formula. I could hear all of the breast feeding moms let out a sigh of disappointment in me, but nothing was worse than the disappointment I felt in myself. I hated everything. I hated being a mother. I hated this new life of mine. What had I done?  The depression was so all encompassing.   I had longed for a child my whole life, yet now I had one and I couldn't bring myself to enjoy her. What was wrong with me?  I didn't recognize myself in the mirror. Everything I thought about motherhood was a lie. 

I continue to fail. Daily. I have stopped pumping and am strictly formula feeding. Because I couldn't handle it. So now my daughter has to have formula. She is constipated from it, wriggling in pain. Because I couldn't handle it. I have failed her time and time again. I have failed my husband. His older daughter was breast fed and is now top of her class, a dancer, piano player, singer, flute player...  I can't help but equate that to her being nursed as a baby. So now I've failed Sabrina and Chris both. 

I try to do my part around the house during the day when the baby is sleeping. I try to keep up with the dishes and make dinner whenever possible. I try to take care of the dog and let her know she's still important. I try to be understanding with my husband, that he has to work all day and still he comes home and helps out with Sabrina. He lets me sleep a few hours before he goes to bed, later than he wants to I'm sure. I try not to be angry when he wakes me up, when I desperately want to sleep more, because it is not his fault. I try to be everything to everyone but I fail over and over again. 

I want to feel whole again. I love my daughter, but I want to be the person I used to be, just with her in my life now. I don't know if that person is gone or not. I hope not. But I don't want to be a failure anymore. I want to do something right, be the right person for everyone's needs. I want to be me. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Normal? What is normal?

Photo from  

Yesterday I found myself reading developmental FAQ's on one of my favorite websites,  I get weekly updates every Monday based on Sabrina's age and what typical milestones are for babies at this age.  The posts always end with this same phrase: "Remember, your baby is an individual".

As mothers, we LOVE to talk about our babies.  Their milestones, their tantrums, the adorable things they do on a regular basis.  But how often do we unintentionally affect another mother who may be listening or reading?  Who may be thinking to herself that her baby hasn't quite reached that milestone yet?  That starts us down the road that all mothers inevitably walk at some point (for me, daily!) in our child's life: Is my child "normal"?

The word normal used to be harmless.  Never really gave much thought to it.  In this day and age of being politically correct (and rightfully so, I'm not arguing against that!), we have to examine words like "normal" and "typical" and the effects they have on those around us.

So far, Sabrina has been a pretty "normal" baby.  We've had our shares of issues- jaundice, latching issues, slow weight gain (hah! makes me laugh now), acid reflux- but no issues outside what many parents of newborns and infants face.  We've had our share of issues with the S word- SLEEP- and read tirelessly to try to find the perfect solution to this "normal" problem.  

The thing about normal is, especially to someone experiencing something for the first time, how do they know what is normal if they've never experienced it themselves?  And what if my baby's reflux symptoms are not the same as someone else's baby's symptoms?  It is a slippery slope, to classify something as "normal" and potentially put it out of one's mind.  Every parent asks themself, what if it isn't normal?  What if my child has autism, or what if they have issues with their gross motor skills?  My child isn't really talking much- is that normal?  What should I do?

The only true advice I have to offer comes from my favorite TV show and favorite character, one Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS.  TRUST YOUR GUT.  I was talking to a dear friend of mine for a bit today, whose son was born 1 week to the day after Sabrina.  We were chatting via text, she congratulating me on my promotion, me saying that I was jealous of her, who quit her full time job in favor of a 2 day a week part time job.  I mentioned Sabrina crawling everywhere and tiring me out, to which my friend replied that her little one isn't crawling yet.  And you know what?  That's 100% normal.  Just like it's normal that her little one has had teeth for months now, whereas my Sabrina doesn't have one pearly white to show for the massive amounts of drool pouring from her mouth.  And that's normal too, although I joke that I may end up needing to get her dentures eventually.  We mothers (and fathers) have a natural instinct when it comes to our children.  We shouldn't compare our kids to each other, or let other kids' milestones take away from our own little one's milestones.  Each child, even within the same family, is an individual.  It's okay for them to do things on their own timetable, when they are ready.  But if your gut is telling you that something might need some attention, or that maybe something doesn't seem quite right, by all means trust that feeling and do something about it.  Early intervention can make a big difference if something does need the attention of a professional.  And if everything turns out to be "normal", you aren't any worse for the wear and have that peace of mind.

Normal is whatever you want it to be.  I have friends who have children with autism, and their normal is a heck of a lot different than my normal.  Everyone's version of normal is different and fits into their own life.  In that way, we're all normal and abnormal at the same time.  Let's love our children for who they are, and worry far less about what is or is not normal.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't wish the time away...

                                                  Apple picking last Fall!

My last post was about wishing time would slow down, about how fast time has gone since having Sabrina. This post is going to completely contradict that!  I'm a woman, I can change my mind as much as I want. :)

I just got back from taking my dog Baby for a walk, and I was struck at how Fall like the weather is right now. So of course I am now longing for time to hurry up, to get to my favorite season and time of year- Fall. 

I love everything about Fall. I love the warm days and cool nights, I love baking pumpkin squares and making comfort foods like soups or a roast and mashed potatoes. I am no Martha Stewart, but I like to pretend I am when Fall rolls around. I like to go apple picking and use the apples to bake a pie (probably the only pie I make all year!). I love to watch the leaves change colors. 

Growing up, Fall was a big deal in our house. My mom's favorite holiday was Halloween, so it was always a special time for us. We'd watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Garfield's Halloween Adventure. As we grew older, my mom would take us to haunted hayrides (which I HATED) and instead of Charlie Brown, we'd watch Halloween episodes of Roseanne. We always carved pumpkins and Grandma Helen would hand our candy at our house while my parents took us trick or treating. Those are some of my favorite memories, freezing outside collecting candy and then coming home and sorting the candy for the inevitable bartering and trading that would occur.  At the time, I didn't realize how important those moments were, how I'd hold onto those memories even as an adult. 

This Fall promises to be one of the best for me. Our traditions won't change much- We will do our usual apple picking, but this year we have Sabrina to join us in our tradition. Though she won't exactly be able to participate fully, she can be a part of our pumpkin carving. And of course, I am so looking forward to her first Halloween. Buying her a costume, going to a few houses trick or treating, handing out candy at home.  It will be amazingly wonderful to create new traditions in our family, just as my mom started traditions for us as kids. Some of those traditions will be the same, others will be different, but they are all rooted in the same love of family. 

So while still wishing for time to slow down, I am also looking forward to this Fall, and all of the joy that it will bring. I am so blessed to have a wonderful family to love, and I plan to make our own family traditions that will last a lifetime. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Slow down, you crazy child...

My baby girl is over 8 months old now. I have spent every single day of those 8 months watching her grow stronger, chubbier, more alert, smarter, more mischievous...  And yet, it all seems to have happened overnight, in the blink of an eye. 

Those first weeks, I spent the time wishing away the hours. Longing for the days when she'd sleep longer, when I'd sleep longer...  But somewhere along the way I found myself going from wishing time would speed up to praying that it would slow down. 

I love watching Sabrina grow up. It is an honor and a privilege to be her mommy. I love the new things that come with each passing day. Her first smiles thrilled me, her laughter gives my life meaning that I never knew before. But with each new milestone, each new phase, each new "month" picture that we take, I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness. 

At 8 months, she is becoming such a toddler. She crawls at lightning speeds, she can feed herself snacks, she has strong opinions of her own, likes and dislikes, favorites and not so favorites.  No longer is she the baby that wanted us to hold her all day and night, who hated tummy time, who would sleep on mommy's chest when she'd sleep nowhere else. And honestly, I am deeply saddened as well as overwhelmingly overjoyed. It is the weirdest blend of feelings, one I cannot really describe. 

I anticipate carrying this melancholy joy with me for the rest of my life. Her first steps, her first birthday, her first day of school, her first sleepover...  The milestones and firsts will come quicker and quicker. I will put on a brave face and smile a big smile for my baby girl, but if you notice me leaving the room shortly thereafter, know that I am probably locked in the bathroom, crying tears of melancholy joy, for my baby is not a baby anymore. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Successful, Happy Mama

Happy Friday!  

I am happy to share with you all that as of today, I was offered and accepted the promotion that I had applied for a few months ago at work. It is a role that I have done twice, on an interim basis, while filling in for the person who originally held the position while they were out on leave. This new position requires organization, time management, managing multiple projects, and coordination of employees and department resources. 

Basically, this job means being a mom. :) But seriously, so many of the skills that this job will require I have developed further since becoming a mom. Being a mom requires juggling an infinite number of priorities, from making sure the baby is fed and dry, to laundry, to vacuuming up the insane amount of dog hair, to packing for a week long family vacation, to cleaning out and organizing closets and bags and boxes and toys. Not that I'm speaking from experience!  

So the question I have now posed to myself is, "Can you do it all, Christine?" This morning I had to be out the door by 6:30 to get to my steering committee meeting at 7, followed closely by inhaling breakfast before meeting number 2 for the day. Then I had to run to a quick doctor appointment, then I took my lunch to see my peanut for the first time for the day (she was asleep when I left this morning).  Then hurried back to work, ate my PBJ sandwich while reading about the latest baby to die after being left in a hot car (a parents worst nightmare and eternal hell I'm sure), followed by an hour of entering issues into a database, followed by an end of the day touch base with some of my trainers. Follow that up with a shopping trip to Sam's Club, rushing home to go for a walk with my family, taking a family trip to Target, then coming home, getting Sabrina ready for bed, and eating a lukewarm dinner once she's asleep. 

I might be tired, and some days might not be as easy to prioritize, but somehow I will find a way to do it all. I earned this opportunity, and I am proud of it. I hope my daughter is proud that her mother was able to be a professional and still be devoted to her 100%. I hope she knows she can do anything she puts her mind to, whatever that may be. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Down Came the Rain: My Struggle with Postpartum Depression

My struggle with postpartum depression was one of the hardest, most unexpected obstacles that I've ever faced.  I never really expected to be "one of those" moms.  I'd never really had issues with depression previously.  I was a bit of a worrier, but that's something that I've inherited from my dad, who makes worrying a hobby and a career both.  I had read a story about a young woman from my hometown of Pittsburgh, about my age, who had many issues with postpartum depression and ultimately ended up committing suicide, leaving behind her husband and newborn daughter.  I remember being really affected by that story.  It scared me.  I couldn't really imagine how she must have been feeling, to take her own life, but I knew I never wanted to feel that way.

I remember Chris asking me in the hospital a day or two after Sabrina was born if I felt "okay", if I was having any issues with postpartum depression.  And I answered honestly, that I wasn't.  I felt great in the hospital.  I was healing quickly from my c-section, taking advantage of the nursery to keep my strength up and sleep when I could.  

Once I went home, I felt off.  After that first horrible night, with almost no sleep, I felt worse than I've ever felt in my life.  My c-section was a breeze compared to that.  I didn't feel comfortable in my own home, in my own skin.  This was my first clue that something was horribly wrong.  

Life those first few days home was spent going through the motions.  I fed Sabrina when I had to, but I was still breast feeding, and it was horrible.  I was only getting an hour or two of sleep at night between feedings.  I am not a day sleeper, so I couldn't catch up then.  Sabrina was getting more jaundiced, and I felt scared because of that, but still very out of it, almost like I was in this sad fog that I couldn't come out of.  

My parents and Chris all intervened and asked me how they could help, did I want to go talk to someone.  We went to my OB about it, and he said I could either take an antidepressant, which would take months to really stabilize me, or I could wait it out.  I left with a prescription for Prozac.  I filled it to appease those around me but had no intentions of ever taking it.

At the time I was also experiencing a lot of physical symptoms.  Trouble sleeping, even though I was exhausted, night sweats, headaches, dizziness.  I just wasn't myself.  I felt okay during the day, but then nighttime would come, and I would turn into a different person.  I cried, became visibly anxious and upset, just wasn't myself.  

I remembered hearing many years ago that Brooke Shields also had issues with postpartum depression with her first daughter, Rowan.  In the middle of the night, while holding my sleeping baby, I downloaded "Down Came the Rain" onto my iPhone Kindle app.  While reading her words, I felt like I wasn't alone, for the first time since Sabrina was born.  Much of what she wrote I could have written myself.  Feeling detached, hopeless, not feeling connected with your baby.  How awful is that, not being attached to your child from minute 1.  That's what we mothers are programmed for.  And I wasn't.

I remember one of my lowest moments vividly.  Chris was holding Sabrina, and he kissed the top of her head.  I realized it hadn't even occurred to me to kiss my daughter.  My only daughter, who I had longed for and dreamt of my whole life, and I hadn't even kissed her.  I knew then that something was seriously wrong, and I had to fix it.

Ultimately I did take the antidepressants, although Prozac only made my headaches worse.  So they switched me to generic Cymbalta, which I am still taking today.  I feel much better than I did then (obviously), less anxious, not depressed.  Eventually I'll taper off of it, but for now, I'm not messing with what is working.  I did go to one counseling session, when I was going back to work, but I didn't really get a lot out of it.  For some counseling works wonders, but for me I just didn't feel it was the right fit for me.

It's hard to describe how I felt 8 months ago, especially now that I've come through the other side of it.  It is the hardest, scariest thing I've gone through.  I luckily never felt so out of control that I thought of harming Sabrina.  I took excellent care of her, however detached I may have been at the time.  It was myself that I wasn't taking care of.  I felt like the saddest, most anxious zombie, just walking this earth blindly, with no purpose, no emotion, no nothing.  Just walking.

To anyone out there who may be experiencing this, or who knows someone who is, GET HELP.  What worked for me may not work for you, but please do SOMETHING.  Talk to a friend, find a moms group, talk to your mom, start a blog, send an email, contact me.  Don't wait for yourself to feel better.  You might get better magically overnight, but you might not, and you can't let yourself get to a point where you might harm yourself or your little one.  

Finally, don't be ashamed.  No one asks to get postpartum depression, just like no one asks to get regular depression, or cancer, or diabetes.   Everyone reacts to giving birth differently.  Talking to others will help you and it just might help someone else in the long run.  That is why I want to write this blog.  Because I was ashamed at first, and I know now that I am thinking clearly again that there is no shame in this condition that so many get yet so few talk about.  

Believe me, it does get better.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tired Tuesday

It's only Tuesday and I must admit I'm already tired. It's been a busy week for me at work, and lately coming home after work entails chasing after a child who is trying to break the world record for fastest crawler, and then I collapse into my recliner (or better yet, my bed!) to spend some QT with the hubby. Wash, rinse, repeat. I said my life was ordinary, remember?  I love every minute of it, but some days, like today, I am in a bit of a fog. 

I can't explain the way I feel when someone tells me that they are enjoying reading my blog. I feel so honored that people take a few moments out of their busy lives to read my stories, my thoughts, my experiences. However, several of my friends made it a point to say that they enjoy my blog "even though they aren't a mother themselves".

I need to take a moment on this Tired Tuesday to apologize if I have written this blog one dimensionally, that is to say only for mothers. I in no way intend to exclude non-mothers from this blog and the conversations that go along with it. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. Everyone has had a special place in a child's life, whether as an aunt or an uncle, a neighbor, a fellow churchgoer, or a friend who becomes like family. In those moments, you become like a mother (or father) to that child. 

I want to honor those special relationships tonight. Those that may not be parental, but rather a purposeful relationship forged out of love and affection. A child can never have too much love. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Breastfeeding Blues

After taking Sunday off from the blogging world to grocery shop, relax, watch my Buccos sweep the Rockies, and watch my kid hate napping, let's return to our regularly scheduled blogging topic.  My life and journey as a Tired, Happy Mama.

Breastfeeding is such a polarizing topic of conversation.  No one is opinion-less.  "If you don't breastfeed your baby, you are feeding it shards of glass in a bottle and they'll be sick their whole lives."  "If you breastfeed your baby, the public will shun you in case you accidentally have a nipple slip."  "People who use formula are obviously lazy, bad parents." "Women who breastfeed are clearly hippies."  

I actually have gone back and forth on my opinion of breastfeeding over the years.  Formula did always seem convenient, and I honestly didn't like the idea of my breasts producing the sole source of food for my child for at least half of his or her life for the first year.  But once I got pregnant, and it wasn't a theoretical discussion any longer, I decided that I was going to be a breastfeeding mama.  It's healthier, FREE, and seemed the right thing to do.  It couldn't be that bad, right?


Now I will preface this by saying that this is my story.  I'm sure people already have their opinions of me and my choices, but so be it, I am here to share the good and the bad alike.  

During my hospital stay, I did a decent job at nursing Sabrina.  I asked for help from the nurses and they did what they could to help me.  Unfortunately most of the time that was just positioning Sabrina's head and letting her suck.  She was born Monday evening and I went home Thursday midday.  I can honestly say that that first night home was the hardest night of my life.  The hours passed so slowly.  Sabrina wanted to eat constantly, my milk wasn't really in yet, and she and I were both miserable.  Somehow on the trip home from the hospital, she had turned into a ravenous little vampire with ouchy pointy teeth, but instead of sucking my blood, she sucked breastmilk.  Every time she wanted to eat, I would try to get her latched, and the pain of it was so excruciating that it made me cry.  Every.  Time.  I dreaded every single feeding, because the pain was just too much to bear.  I didn't have my pump yet so it was either suffer or do formula, and you'd have thought I signed a contract to breastfeed in blood the way I was acting.  I wouldn't entertain the notion of a bottle.  So from Thursday until Monday, the day Chris was supposed to go back to work, I suffered through feeding after feeding.  I called a lactation consultant on Monday and begged for her to see me.  Chris took the day off work because I was a mess, crying constantly, Sabrina was jaundiced and needed another heel prick and a doctor appointment, and life just kinda sucked.

We picked up my pump (which was on order but we didn't have it yet since Sabrina was 3 weeks early) and hightailed it over to the lactation consultant, who I fully credit with helping to get my sanity back.  She looked in Sabrina's mouth and decided that she wasn't tongue tied (yay) and asked me to take off my shirt and bra and feed her so she could see her latch.  When I took off my shirt, she made a small yet audible gasp.  My nipples and breasts were in the worst shape she'd seen in a long time.  So she told me I needed to pump and let myself heal.  She showed me how to use my new pump, and I got a few ounces out... not bad for my first attempt she said.  I was still hardcore into breastfeeding and hating on formula, so she told me to pump every 2-3 hours just like Sabrina's eating schedule, and just give her the milk in a bottle until I was healed.  And then we'd work on correcting her latch once I was healed.  Needless to say, never again did I breastfeed her.

Pumping turned out to be time consuming and fruitless.  That very night, at around 2 in the morning, I only got about 1.5 ounces total from 30 minutes of pumping.  Sabrina was eating 3 ounces at least, so that left me 1.5 ounces short.  I woke Chris up and we made the decision to introduce formula.  I continued to pump for another week or so, but finally gave up and went to strictly formula, because getting less than 2 ounces just wasn't worth the aggravation.

Would my supply have increased if I had stuck with it?  Would her latch have been corrected if I had tried hard enough?  These are questions that I ask myself all the time, 8 months after the fact.  I still feel as though I have failed Sabrina.  The part of my story that I haven't gotten into detail with yet is that I had fairly serious postpartum depression, which started to affect me around the same time that I came home from the hospital (3 days postpartum).  I will share much more on that in the future, but it played a huge part into why I had to give up breastfeeding.  Aside from the physical battle that I was fighting at the time, I was fighting a far harder battle inside, and something just had to give.

Recounting this story opens those wounds as if they were fresh.  I still feel and always will feel that I failed Sabrina by not breastfeeding her.  I still feel like I took the easy way out.  The logical side of me knows it was the right thing to do, but the mommy inside me knows Sabrina deserved better.  Tears are burning my eyes at this very moment.  This is something I will struggle with for a very very long time.

So for those that choose to criticize moms who use formula for being "lazy" or for giving into convenience, stop for a moment and remember that you don't know the whole story.  There is no criticism in the world that is worse than how I've criticized myself.  

In closing, be kind to new mothers.  Those early days are some of the hardest they will face, and every single one has their own unique struggles.  They are Tired, and maybe less Happy Mamas, but the happiness will come with time.. and maybe a little sleep :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mama Time!

As I type this, I am sitting at my favorite local spa, my feet soaking in hot, bubbly water. My hubby got me a mani/pedi for my birthday, which was earlier this week, so I am taking advantage and using it today. But I am struggling to not feel guilty for taking time on a weekend day, one of the few days in the week that I can spend with Sabrina, to do something for myself. 

But I am going to sip my Dunkin Donuts coffee and savor some time to myself, which is a rare commodity in a house with a husband, an 8 month old, a teenager, and a dog.  I still feel pangs of guilt, but I know Sabrina is home playing happily with her daddy, probably not really noticing that mommy isn't there.

So I'm off to savor the mama time.  Tired mamas, unite... And find time to enjoy a few mama moments today, even if it's hiding in the bathroom eating a cookie! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Obsession with Perfection

Photo from Alex and Ani via Facebook- I do not own and am only reposting for the quote!  

For my Friday post, I want to change gears a bit from my background and my story to talk about an ideal that we all face, but especially modern mothers.  The notion of perfection.

Throughout our lives, we strive for perfection.  We experience it as children.  "Make sure you don't color outside the lines!"  We experience it in school, wanting to get good grades so we can go to a good college and make lots of money as adults.  What perfection is and what it looks like changes as we age, but the underlying idea is always there.

I think that as mothers, we put extreme pressure on ourselves to be perfect.  Perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect employees.  Have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect job.  Cook perfect, homemade meals with perfect, decadent homemade desserts.  All healthy and calorie free, of course, and maybe even organic to boot!

But the truth is, do our little ones care about perfection?  No.  Do they care how much money we make, or how big our house is?  Do they care what kind of car drives them to and from daycare or Target or school or church?  No.  Kids care about love and time and attention.  They want mommy to read to them, or take them for a walk, or to snuggle on the couch together while watching Mickey Mouse.  

So does that mean that we working mothers can quit our jobs and let our houses be in disarray, because our kids don't care about these things?  Of course not.  Like so much with motherhood, it's all about finding a balance.  Spending less time worrying about the house looking perfect or working less overtime at work.  Making it a priority to spend time with our little ones while they are still little, while still finding time for the inevitable obligations and chores that come our way.

Nothing I say here is new or original.  It's very easy to say, and maybe not always as easy to do.  We feel the pressures of the idea of perfection in our everyday lives- bosses expectations, seeing others who may have more than we do.  We must strive to be happy with what we do have, realizing it is okay to want more, but to not let that take away from the blessings that are already in front of us.

So on this happy Friday, I challenge all of us Tired, Happy Mamas to spend our weekend not striving for perfection, but rather, enjoying the happiness that can come from imperfection.  Time spent loving those around us, taking advantage of the fleeting summer days, maybe by going swimming together, or running through a sprinkler, or even just taking a walk.  Be yourself this weekend, and love your life, imperfect though it may be.

Tired Mamas, Unite :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Mama Story

November 18, 2013 was the day that life changed.  Or maybe the day that changed me.  But first, let me back up a bit.

Chris and I got engaged on Christmas Eve 2012. A month prior, he had surgery on a benign cyst on his spine. So we were in "live life to the fullest" mode. We knew we wanted children ASAP, so we decided to see what happened. On March 30, 2013, just about 3 months from our wedding date of July 6, I found out I was pregnant. 

I had a very easy pregnancy, aside from utter physical exhaustion. 

I was on a mission to get all of our decorations up and have the house ready for Christmas prior to my due date, December 8. So I spent all day November 17 decking the halls inside our house. Chris came to bed at about 1 am on November 18, so I got up and made one of my many trips to the bathroom. To my utter horror and disbelief, I found blood. Lots of it.  So we grabbed my hospital bags (which had been packed for months) and off to the hospital we went.  I was admitted and put in a birthing room around 6 am, after about 5 hours in triage.  I was progressing slowly so they put me on pitocin, which scared the bajeesus out of me, but they increased my dosage slowly so it wasn't too terrible. I knew long before I was actually pregnant that I had NO desire for natural childbirth, so I received my epidural in the early afternoon hours.  I was scared for it but it was great- I had no headache from it, no pain with it... until it fell out.  Yep.  Around 3:30 or 4:00 my parents arrived from Pittsburgh, and I was hurting.  They called the anesthesiologist back up to give me more medicine in my epidural...  to no avail.  I had pushed for an hour with my nurse, and made zero progress.  Now with my pain level skyrocketing, I couldn't even put my legs in the stirrups.  My doctor came in and I pleaded for a c section.  Enough was enough.  He argued a bit at first, but then gave in after he realized I'd already pushed for awhile with no progress made.  So about 4:45, they put me on a gurney to wheel me to the OR.  It was only then that we realized that my epidural had completely fallen out.  Both our families were standing in the hallway as I was wheeled by...  I was in a daze from the stupid Fentanyl that they gave me (don't do it  ladies, don't do it!).  

Now I was in a cold, bright OR, laying on my side as they shot me up with lidocaine before my spinal.  They put the sheet up, asked me if I could feel anything, and then a few short minutes later I heard my doctor say "Well no wonder, this one is sunny side up!" (Meaning Sabrina was facing up, not down as babies normally are) and a second later, I heard my baby cry for the first time.  Sabrina Elizabeth was born at 5:02 pm on November 18, 2013.  She weighed in at 6 lbs 15 oz and 20 inches long, born at 37 weeks, 1 day.  It was surreal.  I cried tears of happiness and struggled to see her.  They showed her to me quickly and then took her to the nursery to clean her up.  By this time, I was shaking uncontrollably, therefore not able to hold my precious new baby right away.  They took out the rest of my "guts" (eww) and then started to sew me up.  They transferred me back to the gurney for me to go to recovery, and as they moved me, I threw up all over myself.  Lovely.  Apparently they usually give anti-nausea meds but had neglected to give me any.  Bummer.

They wheeled me one room down to recovery, where my nurse and 2 nursing students massaged my uterus, moved my legs, and all kinds of other things that I could not feel in the slightest.  Those spinals aren't kidding- I felt like I didn't even have legs, let alone feeling them move.  They put this heavenly warm blankie on top of me while I still shook uncontrollably.  It was dark and cold and scary.  Chris had gone to stand outside the nursery as they cleaned our little girl up..  and couldn't find where they had taken me.  I was probably alone for close to an hour before he found me.  While in recovery, my parents went to our house to check on our dog Baby.  They sent me a picture of her and it brought me to tears.  I had major guilty feelings that I was ruining the dog's life by having a baby.

They wheeled me out of recovery after about an hour, and I got put in my real room.  My husband and I are both employees at the hospital where I delivered, so we were assured our own room.  The nurse asked me if I wanted a popsicle, and I said yes.  I was parched.  So after sucking down a blue jolly rancher popsicle, they brought my baby girl to me.  I held her for the first time, my tiny little one who wasn't supposed to be here for another 3 weeks.  She had her own agenda, and here she was.  My little love.  I was tired, scared to death of the catheter inside me (of all things!), but here she was.  The nurse came in and helped me breastfeed her for the first time.  Which really meant getting her mouth to open as wide as possible and shoving my nipple as far down her throat as it would go.  She sucked for a bit and hopefully got some colostrum, and then fell asleep.  Once everyone left for the night, I had the nurses take her to the nursery for a bit so I could sleep.  I couldn't obviously get out of bed to pick her up if she needed something anyway, and I told them to make sure they brought her to me if she needed anything.

I don't think I slept much though.  Between the noise, the strange bed, and the stress of the day, I was wired.  So I watched Sister Act.  I'll never forget it as long as I live.. that I laid in the hospital the night my baby was born and watched Sister Act, a movie I loved growing up as a good Catholic School girl.

So that's the story of the arrival of my Sabrina.  This was just the start of my new life, and I have so much more to tell.  I have to say, my c-section wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Others told horror stories, but mine was only moderately uncomfortable.  But more to come on that fun!  For those of you reading this blog, I would love to hear your own birth stories, or your thoughts on mine.  Thanks for reading. Tired mamas unite! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trying Something New

Last night, as my mind raced while I tried to fall asleep, I thought of about 20 different things.  A sampling:

- How guilty I still felt about not being able to breastfeed (nearly 8 months later)
- Will Sabrina ever get teeth?
- Is the dog mad at me?  She hasn't come up to lay with me in bed the past few nights.
- Will I get the new position that I applied for at work?
- I wonder if I should do french manicure or pick a color for my birthday mani/pedi from my hubby?

Somewhere amongst those many thoughts, I decided that maybe I should do like so many others and give blogging a try.  If my brain is on overdrive thinking of so many things, big and small, I'm sure others are too, and I would like to come together (in cyberspace anyway) and share ideas, commiserate on the bad days, rejoice on the good days, and realize that we are not alone.

So here I am.  I have no idea what shape this blog will take, or if anyone will even read it, but I'm here to give it a try.  Tired Mamas unite.  :)